Paul Sepuya

March 1999

For most gay youth, the biggest dilemmas concern the closet: coming out to parents and friends, hiding from them, or trying just to get through another day. Some of you don't have those things to worry about, and finding a date for Saturday night is the biggest worry on your minds. Then, many gay people have conflict over religion, and how to reconcile their beliefs that they've most likely been indoctrinated with their whole lives. So many religious groups make a horrible amount of static over gay people, and how God supposedly hates them.

Well, I have sort of a religious conflict in my life right now. It's not over trying to reconcile my sexuality with my religion (I don't personally believe in institutionalized religion), but rather over the differences between mine and my mother's religious beliefs.

First, I will have to briefly describe my mother: She's a great woman who isn't too overprotective, permissive, or naggy. She's just right. She has a few basic rules, and keeping those in mind is all you need to know. Respect and care for people, listen, don't judge by stereotypes/prejudices (or at least acknowledge when you do), keep up after yourself. That's basically it. I have only one problem, which is that as long as I'm at home, I have to go to church. And she shouldn't have to make me, she says.

We belong to the Episcopal Church (like the US version of the Church of England, fyi), which is pretty cool about gay things. My parish priest and I can talk about why the US needs a lesbian president in 2000, to give you an idea, and our US church representatives condemned the recent Anglican Church decision to reject homosexuality as incompatible with Scripture. If I were a religious young man, I guess I'd have it made. I would even be able to get a blessing on a "marriage" ceremony in the future.

But the truth is, which I don't think my mom likes, is that I am by no means a believer of the Holy Bible, or whatever other Scripture. To me, it is the Hebrew culture's literature. Even if I were religious, I could not take any more consideration to the Bible over the Qur'an or Rig Vedas. In other words, when it comes to religion, this is what I believe:

if there's really anything up above, it doesn't really care what religious group we belong to. It would work something like karma. do good, you get good back. and vice versa. I don't believe there's anything there, but that doesn't mean I can't consider the possibility in case there is. And I have no reason to choose Christianity over Hinduism.

And now back to having to go to Church ever Sunday and high holy day (with the exception of a few Sundays off per annum)... I CAN TAKE ONLY SO MUCH CHURCH ! To me, it's a meaningless ceremony that I don't even want to take part in, and after a while the cynicism builds up inside until I can't take it any longer ! It's nice once in a while to observe sociologically the workings of people and their religion, but if I have to go to watch people doing religion, I'd like to visit a synagogue or my local Buddhist temple. I've been once and it was a nice change.

Maybe I'm not direct enough (maybe too cowardly)... But how do you tell your mother, who believes with every bit of her soul in Jesus Christ that you don't give a darn for institutionalized religion. Being gay was no issue, it has no religious significance to her. Some people are straight, some gay, some bisexual, and all just by who they are. But for my mother, knowing that I am an agnostic/atheist comes off as her son blatantly rejecting God, the one and only God. That, of course, is choice (but is it really?) That's what's so much more difficult for me, that it IS a choice; and one that my mom I don't think can bear.

I never chose anything, other than stating what I already feel. I don't feel any spiritual connection to church worship. But should I still have to go in spite of that? Meaningless charades perhaps? I'm not saying I don't like going because I just get bored. I'm bored because I get absolutely nothing from church.

But then, most people believe religion is a choice, and that fact means that some of those choices can be "bad" ones. And agnostics and atheists are "bad" of course. They have no moral possibility. Wait a minute. I'm one. I made no choice. I'm not all bad. I have a high standard of morals.

Faith happens to you... or it's put in you from birth till death.

They tried to put it in me, but it just won't stick.

Is it my fault?

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